New Jersey “Nice Guy” Finishes First by Building Relationships that Last
Strong, enduring interpersonal relationships are integral to building success for businesses and their clients. And for commercial construction professionals, one of the key elements of the biz is who you know.
Getting to know the who behind the what in this industry is essential to relationship building, and few understand this lesson better than Ron DeSciora, a sales veteran seasoned in the fine art of developing authentic relationships with customers. He just recently retired from a 28-year career at The Blue Book Building & Construction Network (The Blue Book Network), where he held an impressive track record for retaining longstanding customers throughout all of New Jersey.
With ease, this sales journeyman can rattle off example after example of how he and his team worked to empower the local construction community with a customer-first attitude. But doesn’t every business worth its salt have this same customer-oriented agenda? What exactly is Ron’s secret to keeping loyal customers for decades on end?
The answer, he says, is simple: lasting business relationships aren’t developed by chance, but through dedication, shared goals and values, and mutual respect.
It is also Ron’s heart for people, a quality developed long before his career in sales, that truly sets him apart.
Early Years of Character Building
A lifetime resident of New Jersey, Ron always wanted to do something meaningful in life, something that involved helping people. He stuck close to home and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Seton Hall University and Fordham University, respectively, then set out to make a difference by immersing himself in local grassroots charities and, for a few years, by running a halfway house.
“People are the most precious resource that we have. I care about them because the most important things in life depend on people having understanding and concern for each other,” emphasizes Ron.
He worked in various retail and sales positions for several years but never could envision a future for himself at any of those companies. His socially conscious personality was yearning for something more.
Then, in 1989, a 36-year-old Ron spotted a newspaper ad for a regional sales position in New Jersey. He dropped his application in the mail, destined for a company with an identity that had not yet been revealed. Anticipation ate away at him as he waited for a reply, which came late one evening in the form of a telephone call from Tony Ricci, who introduced himself as a Regional Manager for The Blue Book Network. Tony, impressed by Ron’s resume, wanted to meet with him the very next day at a local diner to discuss the job opportunity.
“I had the pleasure of not only hiring Ron but managing him directly or indirectly for at least 18 years of his career. Without question, Ron was the most passionate sales rep that I have had the pleasure of managing. His love and appreciation for our product and our company was evident—he lived it every day!” says Tony, who is now the Director of Talent Acquisition at The Blue Book Network.
Today, Ron has no regrets about choosing a lifelong career in sales. “It is as close to having your own business as it gets,” he says, then jokingly admits, “OK, maybe a little less upside, but less downside, too.”
In Ron’s experience, many variables contribute to success in his line of work—and he feels all sales reps should take heed of this perspective. “Determination, intelligence, education, preparation, training and organization are all important traits and habits for people who work in sales. But I think the most important quality is genuineness. If a customer trusts you, that can usually buy you an extra 20 minutes—and those 20 minutes can make all the difference,” he says.
As a territory sales representative, he had daily access to people from a diverse array of backgrounds. This opportunity sparked Ron’s intrinsic interest in establishing connections with individuals from all walks of life, setting his passion for serving others ablaze as he threw himself into the challenge of meeting each one’s unique needs and goals. While this path is full of highs and lows, Ron feels the upsides outweigh all else.
“Sales mirrors life itself. You should enjoy the successes, but you learn the most from adversity. Everybody gets knocked down, but it is what you do when you get up that counts,” he says.
Relationships Provide Foundation for Good Business
For Ron, developing meaningful relationships with customers is vital to edifying and building up all parties involved. This principle applies to both him and the customers he’s serviced over the years.
“Building good relationships is the foundation for building a good business,” he adds. On a professional level, he is most proud of the number of longstanding relationships he formed with customers.
“I serviced 47 customers for 15 to 20 consecutive years or more, and another 15 customers were under my care for 10 to 15 years. From what I’ve learned over my career, this quantity of repeat business is unheard of in advertising—especially over the past couple of decades with all the changeover from print to the internet,” says Ron.
His customer base ranged from small operations run from people’s homes to some of the largest, most well-respected building and construction companies in New Jersey. He shares several examples of successful businesses today that started from modest beginnings.
“A number of large companies today started with me at the beginning of their business ventures. There was John Quinones of All Action Architectural Metal & Glass, which specializes in a variety of applications for building envelopes. I brought the company into our Network back in 2000, when John worked out of his small shop in Edison, a far cry from the large, state-of-the-art facility he now operates in South Plainfield,” recalls Ron. “Then there’s John Ruddy, who was initially running his demolition business from an office trailer/warehouse when he joined us in 1997. Over the years, Central Jersey Wrecking & Recycling Inc. has grown to be a major player in the demolition and dismantling business, and provides interior and exterior demolition and other services throughout New Jersey and beyond.”
He adds: “In 1990 I met Russ and Noah Baskin, recent college grads who wanted to start a water treatment business.” The Baskin brothers had heard about The Blue Book Network’s agility at connecting their clients to people and projects within target markets. “Even though finances were tight, they decided the benefit to partner with us was worth the investment. They’ve now been a customer for 27 consecutive years and together operate Tower Water, a cooling tower cleaning company that caters to clients in New Jersey and New York.”
Ron continues, “Over time, in these cases and others, our trust-based relationships have served to significantly expand customers’ exposure, helping them build thriving, profitable businesses.”
Great Rapport Builds New Opportunities
New opportunities can present themselves in unexpected ways. Demonstrating interest in others’ ideas can open doors to new prospects and establish rapport.
“I learned a great deal about the building and construction industry through my interactions with customers. Those insights even helped The Blue Book Network grow and expand in remarkable ways,” says Ron.
One great example pertains to advice shared by J.C. MacElroy Co. Inc., a custom metal fabricator and fastener manufacturer based in Piscataway, with clients and projects worldwide. Ron continues, “Back in 2003, Scott Spota, the company President and CEO, explained to us that bollards were a security-based item that presented a non-stop growth factor because of 9/11. At the time, we referenced bollards in other categories, namely site furnishings. He encouraged us to make bollards a prime category on our website; we looked into his recommendation and then acted on it. Within a year of adding the category to our system it really took off and flourished.”
Scott’s company has advertised with The Blue Book Network for more than 30 years. He respects how Ron’s expertise in advertising is paired with a genuine interest in doing what’s best for customers.
“The J.C. MacElroy Co. has worked very closely with Ron for several decades. He always took the initiative to gain knowledge of the multiple industries that we serve as well as the multitude of products that we manufacture. Over the years, Ron’s insightful marketing advice inspired MacElroy to expand its advertising in new product categories and in new territories—which we had never considered before—leading our company to gain new customers across the country,” says Scott.
One of the greatest compliments in business is referrals. In 1991, when Ron convinced a growing concrete contracting company to rejoin The Blue Book Network family, a snowball of new accounts also came rolling in.
“Much of the workforce employed by E. Andre Construction Services Inc. comes from the local community in South River, and many of those individuals migrate from Central and South America. Certain individuals would venture off and establish their own concrete or masonry businesses; each time, the owner of what was then known as Andre Construction would refer them to me because he felt they could more successfully build up the commercial side of their operations by being in our Network,” says Ron. A dozen new advertising relationships developed from this single display of customer confidence. Today, the family-owned company is owned and managed by Edward Andre.
A Show of Loyalty and Respect
Letting customers know that you’ve got their backs displays loyalty and caring, something Ron’s exceptionally good at demonstrating. John Rothberg, Owner of L.N. Rothberg & Son Inc., a large site development and paving contractor in Middlesex, can certainly attest to this.
“I’ve personally known Ron for over 23 years, and he has always displayed remarkable attention to our company’s needs. He always worked with us to custom-tailor solutions that met or exceeded our expectations. We have enjoyed working with him over the years,” says John.
A-Tech Concrete Co. Inc.’s Michael Amorim, too, has high praise for the man who helped his family’s concrete contracting company achieve diversification and advancements in new markets.
“Whatever new idea, market or territory we decided to pursue, Ron was always there to facilitate our involvement and we owe him the success we’ve achieved today. We appreciate everything he has done for us and wish him the best,” says Michael, a Project Manager and son of Owner Armando Amorim.
Scott with J.C. MacElroy Co. adds: “Ron was a great asset to The Blue Book Network and we wish him great success in all of his future endeavors.”
According to Tony, Ron’s instincts about people were instrumental in helping build one of the best sales teams in the history of the company. “He recommended that we hire two of his best friends, Ken Mosier and Steve Loughran. These three worked very well together, integrated well with other staff and made the job fun, competitive and very fulfilling,” says Tony. “Looking back at my 40 years, managing these guys was without question the most fun I have ever had at a job. We were not a sales team—we were a family.” Ken feels there are few people more committed to team-oriented success than the close friend (who’s more like a brother) that he calls “Ronnie.”
“Very few people—if any—are more dedicated to this company than Ronnie was. We learned that working as a team made all of us successful, and Ronnie never forgot that,” shares Ken, who concludes with a heartfelt send-off to the lifelong friend who’s now enjoying a well-deserved retirement spent with his wife of 27 years, Evelyn. “It would be impossible to quantify everything that Ronnie has given to our company. For me and anyone else who worked with him over the last 28 years, from now on there will always be ‘something missing!’ ”